Corona and employees: the most important facts and your rights

With each new Corona case, uncertainty increases. Fear of contracting the coronavirus, questions and information on current issues of wage entitlement in the event of a plant closure, absence from work due to daycare closure, etc. We explain what rights employees are entitled to in the event of a crisis caused by Corona and what obligations employers face.

1. Corona crisis for employees: At what point can I stay home?

The mere fear of infection without concrete evidence of illness with the coronavirus alone, does not entitle you to stay away from work. Employees are obligated to continue their work in a regular manner. An exception exists only if one is actually ill or is in quarantine due to a suspicion.

2. What protective duties do employers have to their employees

Generally, an employer has a duty of care to its employee and must take appropriate steps to have. He must therefore ensure that the risk of infection in the company is kept as low as possible and take the necessary measures to achieve this. This may include the provision of disinfectants, face masks or other hygienic measures. So far, there is no stipulated requirement as to which concrete measures the employer must take. This also depends decisively on the type of company, so that no generally binding requirements can be issued. For example, in a business with a particularly high level of customer contact, more stringent measures will have to be taken. Employees should also avoid contact with people who are ill and large events.

3. Do I retain my wage entitlement if I am placed under quarantine??

If there is a suspicion that an employee has contracted the coronavirus, he or she can be temporarily quarantined by official measures. If it subsequently transpires that the employee is not ill and the suspicion has not been confirmed, the employee is entitled to compensation for the period of quarantine in accordance with Section 56 IfSG (the Infection Protection Act). The compensation payment exists for the duration of six weeks in the amount of the loss of earnings and then in the amount of the sick pay (ca. 70 % of the net salary). In practice, the employer will initially continue to pay the salary and will subsequently be reimbursed by the competent authority for the salary paid out.

4. Are employees allowed to travel on business to the affected regions of China, Italy, etc.?. refuse?

According to the current information, people from the countries China and Italy are particularly affected from the risk of infection. A business trip to the affected areas would hit the employee particularly hard out of concern for his health. Although the duty to work extends in principle to business trips, provided this is stipulated in the employment contract. In this case, however, the individual case and the relevant travel destination are decisive factors. Travel to an area for which an official travel warning has already been issued is likely to be unreasonable for the employee, with the consequence that the employee may refuse to do so.

5. Can I stay at home if my child's daycare center or school is closed??

In principle, employees may not be absent from work without further ado if daycare centers or schools are closed. Since childcare falls within the employee's sphere of risk, he may also lose his wage entitlement under certain circumstances.

At present, it is disputed whether, in the event of an emergency, d.h. if the employee is demonstrably unable to provide child care, he or she may invoke Section 616 of the German Civil Code (BGB). The legal regulation is an exception to the "no work, no pay" principle. According to this provision, the employee does not lose his salary entitlement if he is prevented from performing his duties for a "relatively insignificant period of time due to a reason inherent in his person through no fault of his own". Whether the standard will also apply in the present cases has not been decided at present. The aim of the legislator is to create an exception for individual cases. However, since a majority of persons are affected in the present case, the applicability of the statutory standard is considered critical. Section 616 of the German Civil Code (BGB) is often also already excluded by the employment contract.

In the event of a daycare center or school closing, it is therefore advisable to talk to the employer immediately and find an amicable solution. Conceivable would be for example. the reduction of overtime, remaining vacation or a home office agreement.

6. Will I continue to receive my wages if the company closes down??

If a company has to be closed due to the coronavirus, the employees retain their entitlement to remuneration even if they cannot work. Closure of operations is part of the general operational risk of the employer.

Do you have any questions on this or on the subject of short-time work?? Get in touch with us or read up on our website!

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